The Call of Duty franchise is certainly not afraid to promote paid for downloadable content with all of their recent games dating all the way back to basic two map additions in Call of Duty 2, to enormous in scope, map packs with game patches and weapon additions of the most recent Black Ops 3. I consider myself a veteran COD player having played every game in the franchise, excluding handheld series. I am the type of person who invests hundreds of hours into multiplayer as well as zombies, even delving deeply into easter egg hunting…when the DLC’s used to come out for Microsoft first. This is the first game in the COD franchise that is releasing their DLC packs for Playstation first. Being an Xbox One owner I have just gotten access to the Black Ops 3 Awakening DLC pack on March 3rd, one month after being released on Playstation 4. I decideded it would be best to get a few days of gaming in to get a good handle on the new maps and accurately be able to judge how well this map pack is compared to others. After about 20 hours of multiplayer and zombies gameplay combined it is safe to say Awakening is another solid addition to the COD franchise.
Let me begin by saying I am a huge fan of Black Ops 3, Ghosts was too easy and the extinction mode was nothing compared to Black Ops zombies, while Advanced Warfare was way too fast paced and twitch based with exo zombies being a decent addition to zombies, however not on caliber with the black ops maps. Black Ops 3 was a great return to the MOSTLY traditional Black Ops multiplayer format. I say mostly traditional because or the addition of the booster pack that is similar to the exo suit from Advanced Warfare, as well as the ability to run on walls and boost slide. The pace and movement is cranked up another notch from Black Ops 2 but nowhere near as fast as Advanced Warfare. Awakening is the first DLC map pack of four scheduled for Black Ops 3 and it contains 4 multiplayer maps and the new addition of Der Eisendrache zombies map.
Skyjacked is the highly anticipated remake of the classic Black Ops 2 multiplayer map, Hijacked. If you have played Black ops 2, you would know hijacked was a medium sized ship map that was considered to be one of the best maps in Black Ops 2. Skyjacked is a refreshingly new aesthetic taste on the Hijacked map. The description in game states “re-imagined as a Z.D.F police VTOL, hovering over rioting downtown Zurich”. Skyjacked follows the exact same layout as Hijacked with a beautiful new coat of paint. Skyjacked is covered in gorgeous bright blues, whites, and oranges, all having a perfect sheen in the Zurich skyline. There are a few additions to the map that enhance the Black Ops 3 playstyle giving players the ability to run on almost any wall and allowing for better player movement opening up some of the original choke points. This gives players the new ability to move around the map a little more freely as compared to the typical motions of each team moving towards the middle of the map and holding ground in choke points and lines of sight as the enemy team tries to retake control of the center of the map. Another great addition is the blasted hole in the side of the airship giving a third access point to the underalley of the ship. This makes for a more fluent change of pace in game modes such as hardpoint, because one of the downsides to the original map was once a team had control of the hard point under the ship there were only two tight hallways in which to retake it. Now players can wall run on the side and boost into the hole adding a little more balance to map control. This was probably my second favorite map of the DLC pack.
4.5 Screaming Prepubescent Quick Scopers out of 5
Gauntlet is another medium sized map that plays a little more slow paced than Skyjacked. It is divided up into 3 different biomes that make for another typical Treyarch 3 laned map. I don’t say “typical” in a bad way because this map is a ton of fun. It is a training facility with a rainy London Alleyway as one side lane, a Tropical Forest as another side lane, and a larger Snow Tundra as the center lane, which tends to see the most action. There are also large inside buildings that reinforce the training facility aspect of the map which also sees a good amount of action, but takes away from the whole feel of the map itself. The forest and tundra are filled with more beautiful colors that make the feeling of the map very bright and fun, however, the London alleyway is just one straight line of drab brown and grays that don’t really add much to the beauty of the map. The indoor facilities also look nice, but it would have been better if they expanded the biomes a little more and took the buildings down a few specs. Even with those two take aways from the map, it plays great. The tundra plays out as the middle ground where most firefights take place and the layout gives players the ability to move around with ease. It is a map that is easy to get a hold of and will be a great map for fast paced game modes like CTF, Hard Point, and Kill Confirmed. This was my third favorite map of the DLC pack.
4 Drop Shotters out of 5
Rise is the largest map in the DLC pack but it is also my least favorite. This may be a little biased because I am not a huge fan of larger maps, but it still isn’t too bad. Rise is your usual COD trope of a construction site which we have seen a dozen times already, however it does work in the Black Ops 3 gameplay pretty well. The main layout is a few larger buildings with smaller areas inside that you can move about with two more open lanes on the sides and a very open circular area in the center. It also has a great underwater area where players can dive and get behind enemy lines nearly undetected. The best part of this map is the movements. Running through every building and open area feels smooth, going from sprints to boost jumps and slides with ease and allowing for a bunch of access points to the large center area of the map. The map doesn’t looks as bright and fun as the other maps, but the movement is near flawless here. You never feel like you are overwhelmed with too man firefights in any one area and with so much open access to the center where most of the action plays out makes for a number of different methods for success. This map may not be my cup of tea, but players who enjoy Search and Destroy will probably love it.
3.5 Arrogant Campers out of 5
This map is fucking fantastic. It is safe to say Splash will most likely be everyone’s new favorite map for Black Ops 3. This setting is gorgeous, it takes place in a beautifully colored water park containing wreck pirate ships, fountains spraying water across the map, slides, rafts, underwater segments, and a beach hut/towel shack section. A perfectly layed out small to medium sized map that plays perfectly. The choke points and vantage points are great with the lines of sight being open enough for great tactical gun fights. The pacing in this map is always flowing, the lack of camping locations and open access to every area creates for a perfect dance of boost sliding, gun play, and changing map control. It is nearly impossible not to compare this map to the magnificent Black Ops 2 DLC bonus map, Grind, and SPLASH will go down as one of the BEST COD maps ever. Treyarch truly knows what they are doing when trying to get newer players hooked and keeping long time fans happy. Bravo Treyarch, fucking bravo.
5 Trip Mine Spammers out of 5
Awakening DLC Final Score: 4.25 out of 5
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